You call that market research?

You call that market research?

Maybe it’s something to do with the weather, or the end of Super Rugby, or Google’s go slow, or the arrival amid much hullabaloo of WolframAlpha … (btw, couldn’t they have come up with a catchier name, or is the point to sound a bit snooty ‘cos they think they’re the best?)

Anyhow, whatever the reason, my inbox has been getting a real going over these past couple of weeks from online surveys. You know what I mean. Those sycophantic, almost salacious, enquiries saying how much we’re valued as customers for whatever new gizmos we’ve just bought or software we’ve downloaded…and would we offer an opinion about the experience of spending money with them.

I don’t might offering an opinion or being asked to do so.

But what bugs me most is what seems like an increasing expectation from many companies that we’ll do it for nowt. Just offer feedback for the love of it. Last time I checked, this was called market research…and business in its own right, and a multi-billion dollar one at that.

So, I thought I’d do a bit of research of my own. First out of the blocks was Apple.

“Dear Greg Adams,” it began. “As a valued customer, your opinions are very important to us. That’s why we would greatly appreciate your feedback regarding your recent experience purchasing at the Online Apple Store …blah, blah, blah.”

There was another little gem thrown in near the end. “By accepting our invitation to participate in this survey you also agree that Apple may contact you via telephone to seek follow-up information as to your participation.”

Boy, I’m not quite sure if that’s a threat…or a promise.

Not long after a similar sort of approach was made by NZ Post, asking for 10 minutes of my time to tell them how they were doing.

To both, I responded with words to the effect of: “Thank you for your invitation to participate in your customer survey. I was wondering what you are offering in return for my time and opinion.”

Now, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

A reply duly pinged back from NZ Post’s representatives. “Hi Greg, Thank you for your email. In regards to any incentive, the feedback and comments that New Zealand Post will be utilising should be a direct benefit to you through improved service and products.”

Just think about it for a minute. Surely asking someone to give their time freely is at best cheeky and at worst, well, bloody cheeky. What’s wrong with some measure of reward? There are plenty of companies that put their hands into their pockets for a prize draw for respondents, a discount coupon, or something like that. Those I’ll help.

But to my mind there seems to be a bit too much of this freeloading going on. So, if you’re asked, just ignore it. That’ll teach them.

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